By Chris Smith, Special to the Sun
Vancouver Sun

94. Boston, Boston



When Boston's self-titled, out-of-nowhere debut album hit the charts at No. 3 -- followed by gold and platinum status in a matter of weeks -- a collective groan emerged from music critics around the world mourning the death of rock and roll. It was new. It was popular. And it was entirely soulless.

Boston was the pet project of MIT-trained engineer Tom Scholz, a complete unknown who slaved for years in his basement to create a highly polished gem combining heavily layered harmonics, interchangeable guitar solos, clean mixing, strong melodic hooks, and soaring vocals (with the help of singer Brad Delp) -- essentially creating the faceless, much-derided genre of corporate rock. The enormous and unexpected popularity of the album opened the floodgates for bands like Journey, Foreigner, Supertramp, and REO Speedwagon to bring rock into the 1980s as disco and U.K. punk saw their stars begin to dip below the horizon.

While critics may not have appreciated the idea of rock without a soul, fans ate it up, and Boston quickly became the best-selling debut of all time. Scholz combined the mixing prowess of Brian Wilson with the pop craftsmanship of Phil Spector to produce an album on which every song rings like an anthem -- More Than a Feeling, Peace of Mind, Rock and Roll Band, Smokin', Let Me Take You Home Tonight. If you can avoid catching these FM-entrenched tunes on the radio for a good year or so, a respectful listen with fresh ears will reveal a tight, upbeat recording that will earn your respect anew.

Chris Smith is the author of 100 Albums That Changed Popular Music